How is your summer going so far? What have you been doing? Are you enjoying your time away from Hogwarts? You must be busy catching up with your old friends and explaining everything to your parents.
So far, it's been very odd for us. On his very first day with his relatives, Harry's uncle hit him because he wanted more than just a piece of toast for breakfast. Can you believe that? I almost went and hexed them myself. They're awful people. Dad and Dumbledore went to talk to them. Since then, Harry lives here and goes to the Dursleys' during the afternoons. We're not sure what Dad might have done, but none of them come anywhere near Harry anymore. That's how we like it. Harry doesn't mind the house-work he has to do now, but I still think it's unfair, considering everything. Do you have to do work like that? If so, what sort of tasks do you do?
Ron just has to clean up his room every week, but since everything he owns is orange or a close match, it's almost impossible to tell whether it actually is clean. I'm supposed to clean my room, too, I suppose, but neither of us like living in a mess, so it's not a problem. With two people's things in one room, that's probably fortunate. I used to help in the kitchen, but Mum hasn't asked me to do that since our first weekend home. Harry kind of showed my mum that he knows how to cook, and she hasn't asked me to do that chore anymore. Harry really enjoys cooking, but I don't. Do you cook much? Do you like it? Ron only worries about making sure he eats it all.
We spent our mornings for the first two weeks cutting the grass in the paddock, just like Mum said we'd have to. It wasn't fun at all. There's not much else to say about it. I did a lot of swimming in the afternoons, and Harry got to swim for the first time last Saturday. We had a great time. Do you swim much? Harry's seen Muggle swimming pools before, but he's never actually been in one. What are they like? We don't have a pool like that, of course. There's a pond along the stream behind The Burrow, and we swim there.
Yesterday, my friend Luna Lovegood visited for the day. She's a bit strange, but I like her a lot. She knew right away that something was going on with Harry and me. I don't know how she figured it out, but she promised not to tell anyone else. I believe her. Can you imagine how she might have known? We've been trying not to do any of the things that tipped you off.
Have you caught up with anyone from your Muggle school? I remember you said you live in Cambridge, but neither of us has ever been there. Do you like it? Is your house in the city or in the suburbs, like Little Whinging?
Do you think you might be able to come and visit us sometime? Maybe you could come on Harry's birthday. He may still have to go to Privet Drive that day, but we'd really like to see you. Mum and Dad have already said you can come any time you want. Your parents, too, if they'd like.
We've asked Hedwig to stay with you until you reply. Just feed her a bit of bacon or something every now and then. Or you can let her out during the day to hunt, if you think it's okay in your neighbourhood. She'll probably find you now and again to see if you have a letter. Take as long as you like.
Write back soon!
Ginny and Harry
30 June 1992
Dear Ginny & Harry,
It is wonderful to hear from you. I don't have an owl, of course, so I was hoping that you would write soon. My parents think Hedwig is just wonderful. They keep talking to her whenever she's here. I think she feels a bit put-upon, but of course she's being very polite. I'll give her an extra treat before she leaves with this letter.
I was so sad when I read what your relatives had done to you, Harry. Did that sort of thing happen a lot? I know Ginny won't let it happen anymore. Why didn't you ever tell your teachers at school? You don't have to answer that if you don't want to. Regardless, what your relatives did was extremely unfair and unkind. I hope you know that most people are not like that at all. It's just as well that you don't have to spend very much time there and that they're leaving you alone. I'm sure you're much happier together at Ginny's house, even if you have to go back in the afternoons. What do you do while you're there?
My summer has been uneventful so far. My parents are still working, so we haven't had an opportunity to do anything special during the week. I'm home alone during the day, but that's not so bad. I've been catching up on the Muggle subjects I missed while I was at Hogwarts. No offence, but how do wizarding students ever really learn about literature, geography, or the arts? There's no maths, either, unless you consider Arithmancy. I think it's good that the professors try to make sure we keep learning about writing, and I can't wait to take Arithmancy, but I also think it's important to learn the basic subjects properly. I'm working on my maths revision this month. Do either of you like maths?
When I'm not busy with that, I watch a bit of television, though I've never been terribly interested in most of the programmes that are broadcast. I'm also trying to redecorate my room, but so far I've only managed to gather all of the old things I want to put somewhere else. Other than that, I like to sit outside and read for fun. I don't really have anything I have to do around the house – I help out with some things just because it's the right thing to do, but nothing is required of me. I do try to help my mother in the kitchen, but no, I don't really enjoy it all that much and seldom cook more than basic things for myself.
In the evenings, my parents and I talk, for the most part. I haven't told them absolutely everything that happened last year, but I have plenty to talk about anyway. Have you said anything more to your parents, Ginny? On the weekends, my mother and I have gone shopping to get a few things I needed, and we all went to the cinema on Saturday. I hope you've been to the cinema before, Harry, but I rather suspect that you haven't.
Thanks again for the coin you gave me with the hair-colouring charm. We all spent that first evening with red hair, and my father has been trying to find something else in the house that it will turn red. So far, it only works on our hair, but they really enjoyed that. I don't know how many more times the charm will work, but I showed the letter about the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Under-Age Sorcery to my parents, so they know I can't recharge the coin. This autumn, we should work out how to do different colours. Dad says that he wants to see what I look like with green hair.
I'm glad you've finished with the grass. I felt awful that the three of you had to do that when my parents don't even know what happened, but I just couldn't think of a way to really explain it to them without frightening them.
Had you gone swimming before, Harry? If not, how did you learn? Ginny said that she liked to swim, so perhaps that made it easier for you. I'd really like to hear about it.
Since you asked, yes, I do know how to swim. I'm not great at it, and I don't go as often as you seem to, but I like it well enough. I've been in loads of swimming pools. Some of them are better than others, but for the most part they're nice enough. The water tastes odd and stings your eyes because of all the chemicals they put into it to keep it clean, but it's very clear. How big is your pond? If it's along a stream, then hopefully it's fairly clean.
What do you mean that your friend Luna knew that something was going on? That sounds very ominous without knowing anything more. Did she notice you eating? You still slip up and eat in unison sometimes. I'm sure you didn't do your transportation trick in front of her. Did you?
We live outside the city, but not in a modern house like the Dursleys'. Our house is in a small village about eight miles from the city centre, and we live in an old rectory with a big garden. Cambridge is very nice and is not that big, really – parts of it are a bit like Diagon Alley without all of the magic. There are loads of people doing lots of different things, and you can find just about anything you like if you look around. There are lots of colleges, which are part of Cambridge University, of course, and they're wonderful, beautiful places. The nicest ones are medieval and are built around courtyards called "quads". Of course, being a University town, there are lots of good bookshops.
I would love to see you sometime this summer, but it's not as easy for us as it would be for you. According to my map, it would take over four hours to drive from Cambridge to Devon. That means I can't be there on 31 July, because it's a weekday. Ironically, it would be much easier for me to visit Surrey. Don't worry – I don't want to go there in the least.
I talked to my parents, though, and they suggested that perhaps we could meet in London at the Leaky Cauldron on 1st August. It's a Saturday, of course, so we would have time to visit for a while. It doesn't take that long to get into London by train, and the Leaky Cauldron is easy to get to from King's Cross. Would that be okay with you? I'd rather be there for your birthday, Harry, but I just can't get there on a weekday. I'll still send you a gift with Hedwig on or before the proper day.
If you want to, and if your parents agree, we could meet at the Leaky Cauldron at 11:00 a.m. That would give us time for lunch and to have a look around Diagon Alley. I'd like to go to Flourish & Blotts even if we don't have our school lists yet.
Say hello to Ron, Fred, George, Percy, and your parents for me, please. I would write to Ron separately, but that doesn't seem to make much sense. Feel free to show him this letter if you want to. Otherwise, tell him that I look forward to seeing him again and that I hope his summer is going well.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Hermione J. Granger
Look, Harry, she's got a 'J', too.
For her sake, I hope it doesn't stand for James.
Ginny and Harry sat together on the sofa in the parlour after dinner as they read the letter that Hedwig had just delivered. Percy had sequestered himself in his room again, and the twins were outside wandering around the garden for some undisclosed reason.
"What does Hermione have to say?" Mr. Weasley asked from his chair.
"She says hello, and she's having a nice summer. She can't come for Harry's birthday, though, because it's too far to drive on a weekday. Could you go and get her or something?"
"Perhaps," her father replied, "but her parents might not like that, and we shouldn't push them. They barely know us."
Ginny shrugged, trusting her father's advice completely. "Alright. They offered to bring her to meet us at the Leaky Cauldron on the first of August, though. We can have lunch, and Hermione wants to go to the bookshop. Can we go?"
"What do you think, Molly?" Mr. Weasley asked, turning to his wife where she sat knitting.
"I suppose we could visit Diagon Alley. It would be nice for us all to do something together, and the Grangers seemed like very nice people."
Mr. Weasley smiled. "Nothing else on the social calendar, then?"
"No, dear," Ginny's mother replied with a smile of her own. "We've that weekend off."
"Well, then, I'll stop by the Cauldron tomorrow to let Tom know that we'll be there. With eleven of us coming at the same time, he'll probably appreciate the warning."
Harry smiled, and Ginny beamed. "Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Mum," Ginny said.
"You're welcome, dear," Mrs. Weasley said. "Write back to Hermione soon, so that her parents can plan ahead."
"Okay." Ginny turned to Ron, who was sitting at the other end of the sofa. "Want to read it, Ron?"
He shrugged. "Yeah, sure."
When he had finished, Ginny and Harry climbed to her room and replied to Hermione's letter. In addition to confirming their meeting in London, they described Harry's introduction to Luna, and Harry attempted to explain how it had felt to learn to swim. Together, they answered as many of Hermione's questions as they could, and they asked her for more information about swimming pools, cinemas, and ancient universities. With a glance at Hedwig's drooping eyes, they left the letter on Ginny's desk and asked Hedwig to bring it to them whenever she felt ready for another journey to visit Hermione. Hedwig clicked her beak affirmatively before settling down for a well-deserved nap.
The following morning over breakfast, the Weasley brothers radiated their excitement over the extra trip to Diagon Alley. The twins loudly congratulated Harry and Ginny on the idea before putting their heads together conspiratorially, and Ron ate with a wide grin on his face, wondering aloud about the new broom models at Quality Quidditch Supplies around mouthfuls of food. Even Percy smiled slightly, though he did not seem to be particularly excited about the visit.
"Going swimming again this morning?" Ron asked when the conversation had petered out.
"Yeah," Ginny said. "Want to come along?"
"Yeah, I suppose so."
"What about you two?" she asked the twins.
"We'll pass, this time. Plans to make, you know."
An hour later, Harry and Ginny sprinted to keep up with Ron's longer strides as they all raced for the pond. Ron arrived several yards ahead and slowed to a stop at the edge of the water before removing his shoes and shirt.
"Ron, move!" Harry shouted as he and Ginny approached.
Ron glanced up at them as they barrelled towards him, deliberately matching their paces. Quickly, Ginny's brother scrambled a few paces backwards, clearing their path into the pond. With exuberant, identical leaps, Harry and Ginny dove into the pool.
They glided along the bottom for a moment, losing their momentum. We should go out for the Olympics, Harry said.
Ginny's laugh bubbled in their minds as they surfaced, and she grinned at him as they came to a stop. That would be totally unfair.
"What's so funny?" Ron asked. They looked over to find him standing chest-deep in the water.
"The Muggles have this sport called synchronised swimming," Harry said. "Two or more people try to move exactly the same way in the water. We thought we might be able to get a medal."
Ron snorted. "They call that a sport and give medals for it?"
"They call all kinds of things sports," Ginny said. "When you think about it, the swimming would be really hard for most people."
"I suppose," Ron said, shrugging. "Think I'll stick with Quidditch, though."
They had been in the water for only a quarter of an hour when they were interrupted by a loud, commanding shout from the top of the hill. "Ginevra Molly Weasley!"
Ginny looked up to find her mother storming towards them.
What –? Ginny began, surprised and confused.
"Get out of that water this instant!"
Without thinking, Ginny Shifted to stand directly in front of her mother. She pushed her dripping hair behind her ears and over her shoulders as she looked up apprehensively. "What's wrong, Mum?"
Mrs. Weasley started when Ginny appeared, but she recovered rapidly. Her expression was fierce as she spoke. "Get your shoes and your dress, and come with me."
Years of obedience led Ginny to do exactly what her mother said without truly thinking about it, and Harry was affected by the same instinctive compulsion. He Shifted from where he still waited in the water to the edge of the pond, where he picked up all of their clothes. Then, without pausing, he Shifted to Ginny's side and handed her dress to her.
As Ginny pulled her dress over her head, Harry risked a glance up at her mother. Mrs. Weasley was looking down at him with an expression of utter outrage and blazing anger. Harry's own childhood instincts made him back away two steps.
Feeling Harry's fear, Ginny stepped between him and the enraged woman. "Mum!" she shouted. "What are you doing?"
Mrs. Weasley closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and released it in a rush. Then she locked her eyes on Ginny. "Come with me. Both of you." Her face was still contorted in anger, but she had calmed somewhat. She did not look at Harry at all.
Without waiting for a response, Ginny's mother spun on her heel and walked briskly towards The Burrow.
What do we do? Harry asked.
Ginny was torn between obedience and worry that her mother was so angry at them and especially Harry. She did not want to end up in a situation similar to the one at Christmas the previous year.
Follow her, I guess, but be ready, Ginny decided. If things go wrong, we hide in your room at Privet Drive and call Professor McGonagall.
Ginny slipped her feet into her sandals. Lacking water and a towel, Harry leaned over and began scrubbing his t-shirt across his dirty feet to dry them so that he could put on his shoes. After only a moment, Ginny saw her mother stop and turn around to see what they were doing. The woman huffed and pointed her wand at Harry's feet before he could react. "Evanesco."
With a tingling sensation, the mud vanished from Harry's feet, and he straightened abruptly. Mrs. Weasley cast another cleaning charm on his shirt, and then she swept her wand in an arc in front of him. "Aridus," she said firmly. After casting the charm on Ginny, her mother turned and started back towards The Burrow. Harry and Ginny followed her quickly, and as they approached the house, a bizarre and incongruous warbling sound became audible.
Muggle police sirens?Harry asked. What on earth would Muggle police be doing here?
I have no idea. They're not even supposed to know there's a house here.
The small group reached the back step, and as Mrs. Weasley opened the door, Ginny summoned her courage. "Mum, what's that noise?"
Her mother did not respond except to shoot her a fast, disapproving look. Once inside, she led the two children up the stairs to Ginny's room. On the first floor, Percy was standing in the doorway to his room with his arms crossed, and Ginny spotted the twins' faces in the tiny opening they had left in their door.
"Yes, Percy, I remember," Mrs. Weasley said tersely as they passed. "I'll have the noise off in a moment." Percy nodded and vanished into his room.
When they reached her room, Harry and Ginny's eyes were immediately drawn to her pyjamas, which had been thrown haphazardly onto the bed. The flowers on the fabric, which were normally white trimmed in green, were flashing from red to blue in a quick, dizzying pattern, and the pyjamas were clearly the source of the ear-splitting noise.
Mrs. Weasley waved her wand, whispering an incantation, and the flashing and noise stopped abruptly. In the sudden, ringing silence, she spoke in a harsh voice. "What do you have to say for yourself, Ginevra?"
Ginny furrowed her brow. "I don't understand, Mum," she said honestly. "What was that?"
Her mother turned to face her fully, the older woman's eyes boring relentlessly into her own. "That was the alarm on your pyjamas. The one that goes off if you haven't worn them the previous night."
Ginny blinked, confused. She had worn the pyjamas every night since she got them, without fail. They were a bit too warm during the summer in Devon, but she wore them anyway and simply eschewed the Invisibility Cloak and her duvet.
"But… I have worn them," she said. "I wear them every night. I took them off just a couple of hours ago before breakfast."
Mrs. Weasley arched an eyebrow. "Then why is the alarm going off as if you didn't wear them at all?"
You did! Harry protested, his defensiveness beginning to overcome his wariness. Why doesn't she believe you?
"I don't know, but I did wear them," Ginny said with a touch of defiance in her voice. "Could there be something wrong with the charms?"
"There must be," Harry stated flatly. "She always wears them, because Mr. Weasley asked her to."
The older woman's nostrils flared, but she spared Harry only the briefest of glances. "Your father cast those charms," she said to Ginny.
Ginny paused in surprise. Her mind could find no explanation that fit the evidence. I've never, ever seen one of Dad's charms stop working properly.
That doesn't mean we're guilty.
"I can't explain it," Ginny said more softly, knowing that they had no more proof than her mother did. "I wore them all night."
After a moment of staring at Ginny, Mrs. Weasley spoke in a clipped voice. "You two will spend the rest of the morning in the parlour with me. We'll talk about this with your father when he gets home."
Harry and Ginny followed her mother downstairs in silence. Mrs. Weasley sat in her chair and took up her knitting. Seeing nothing else to do, the two friends sat together on the sofa and picked up the nearest catalogue. Brightly-coloured robes of all varieties filled the pages in front of them, but they hardly noticed. Wizarding music from the wireless formed a low, indistinguishable buzz in the background. The clacking of the knitting needles, which was normally soft and almost soothing, now seemed to echo from the walls above the noise provided by the wireless. The sound ticked away the time, gradually increasing their tension.
We didn't do anything, Harry insisted.
I know, Ginny said, her exasperation clear in their minds, but we can't prove it, can we? Nobody saw me after I put on my pyjamas last night, and I changed into my swimming costume before breakfast.
She can't prove anything, either.
I'm not sure she thinks she has to.
Well, she should. She's not right just because she thinks she is.
They felt the air heating slightly, and they both closed their eyes and took deep breaths to control themselves. After vainly looking for some distraction in the parlour, they settled for attempting to relive, moment-by-moment, each of the Quidditch games and memorable practices from the previous year. The room did not return to a comfortable temperature, but they were able to keep from warming it any more than they already had.
Every few moments, Ginny's mother looked up from her knitting and brushed them each with her gaze. Within a few minutes, her angry glare had mostly softened into a concerned glance, and her eyes lingered longer on Ginny than they had at first. During her own furtive looks, Ginny noticed that her mother's knitting was far more erratic than anything found in her famous Weasley jumpers.
After an hour and a half, when Harry and Ginny had progressed to remembering every spell they had learned in their first year in chronological order, they realised quite suddenly that the room had gone completely silent. Looking up, they saw Mrs. Weasley standing up from her chair.
"Come along. It's lunchtime," she said briskly.
They followed her to the kitchen and sat together at the table. Within a few minutes, Ginny's mother had set plates of sandwich ingredients along the counter. When she finished, they sat and looked nervously around the room.
Ron sidled into the room just as the clock struck noon, and he glanced at the food on the counter before turning to Mrs. Weasley.
"We're making our own sandwiches today," she said. "Help yourselves."
Ron nodded and stepped forward to make himself two thick sandwiches. Ginny and Harry got up and waited behind him for their turn.
The other boys came downstairs within a few minutes, but apparently they caught the mood of the kitchen. All five young people were quiet as they prepared and ate their lunches, although Harry thought that Percy was frowning at him when no one else was looking. When they were all seated, Mrs. Weasley made her own sandwich and sat at her place at the table.
Lunch passed at an agonizingly slow pace. Long periods of silence were broken by Mrs. Weasley's stilted attempts at conversation. The younger group finished their sandwiches quickly, but Ginny's mother lingered over hers, eating ever more slowly as she appeared to run out of things to talk about without addressing Harry or Ginny.
At last, she glanced at the clock and then straightened abruptly. "Look at that. It's nearly one o'clock. You all run along and enjoy the day."
Harry had five minutes left before he had to leave, and he was not at all sure what he should do.
Go ahead, Harry, Ginny said. I'll be fine.
I just don't know what she'll do.
I don't either, she admitted, but… well… Ginny sighed silently. She hated to put her thoughts into words, but she knew it was utterly impossible to hide anything from Harry. She's easier to get along with when you're not around.
Guilt flashed through them, but it was quickly subsumed by a flash of Ginny's stubborn spirit. Don't you even think that I don't want you here, Harry Potter.
I know, Ginny. Honestly, I do. I have to. It's just…
She deflated, her shoulders slumping slightly. We still wish we could have it both ways. I know. I'm sorry I snapped at you.
It's okay. I know what you're really upset about.
Ginny nodded. Go on, Harry.
Okay. But if anything happens, I'll be there.
I know, she said, summoning a small smile.
Harry wanted to kiss her cheek as she had done so often for him, but Ginny knew that even such a casual gesture would only make things worse with her mother. Instead, he squeezed her hand and pushed a non-verbal rush of affection into their minds. Then, without standing or looking around, he Shifted to Surrey.
As Harry went down the stairs to begin his routine, Ginny raised her eyes to find her mother staring at her with glistening eyes and slightly reddened cheeks. Ginny wanted to say something to help, to make things better, but she could not think of anything that would be both true and reassuring.
Mrs. Weasley was silent for a few moments, and then she closed her eyes and sighed. Taking the change as a cue, Ginny finally spoke. "What shall I do, Mum?"
"Anything you like, Ginny," the older woman said in a quiet voice. "Just stay in the house, please."
Ginny stared at her mother and fought to control her temper. They had grown accustomed to the woman's distant attitude towards Harry, but Ginny found it completely unfair of her to be more lenient just because Harry was gone. She could not resist saying something in their defence. "He would never do anything to hurt me, Mum."
Mrs. Weasley looked up and met Ginny's eyes again. "There are different kinds of hurt, Ginny." Without further words, she got up and busied herself by tidying the kitchen.
I would never hurt you in any way.
I know, Harry.
Despondent, Ginny glanced about the kitchen for some task to occupy her, but she did not feel up to much of anything. So, resigning herself to an afternoon of captivity, she went to her room and lay down on her bed. Curled up on her side, she looked out her window at the summer sky, which was dotted with a few high, wispy clouds. Here, at least, she could spend an uninterrupted afternoon with Harry at his relatives' house.
Harry was working in Petunia's garden again. She never allowed him to actually handle the flowers and shrubs there, as she preferred to be seen doing that herself, but she had no objection to having him pull up all of the weeds. He had placed the wheelbarrow near the centre of the garden, and as he worked he tossed the weeds into it.
Weeding the garden provided the opportunity for one of the few games Harry had invented for himself over the years. As games went, it was quite simplistic. He merely left the wheelbarrow in one place, and as he moved around in the garden, he tried to toss the weeds into the wheelbarrow from different distances and angles. A few clumps of weeds still ended up on the ground occasionally, but in general he had become rather good at it.
Ginny closed her eyes and focused on his senses, picking up on the subdued pleasure that weeding provided them. When Harry missed a particularly long throw, a hint of her usual spirit finally re-emerged.
I could have made that, Potter. Good thing you're not a Chaser.
He grinned. You're probably right. This isn't nearly as hard as Quidditch.
More like tossing gnomes.
At least the weeds don't bite.
They continued to play, hoping that none of the Dursleys would catch Harry enjoying himself. As he turned and attempted to throw three divots into the wheelbarrow at the same time, a flash of unnatural green crossed his vision alongside the earthy colour of the weeds.
A woman's scream, which they recognised as Lily Potter's rather than Mrs. Weasley's or Ginny's, sounded in their minds as they realised what was happening.
I fell asleep! Ginny cried, trying to push away the images.
Harry sprinted for the house and barrelled through the door into the living room. Petunia and Vernon were both watching television, and in the brief moment Harry was inside the house, he saw them begin to heave themselves out of their chairs. Their expressions mixed outrage with some sort of discomfort, but Harry did not pause to consider their situation.
As soon as he was out of sight of the neighbours, Harry Shifted to Ginny's room, concentrating carefully to avoid seeing the burning figures in their minds. He arrived next to the bed and heard her whimpering and crying out as she twitched on the mattress. Reaching her side, he first grasped Ginny's hand and then sat next to her shoulders. As gently as he could, he shifted his grip and lifted her head into his lap.
Ginny calmed immediately, and being moved woke her from her unintentional nap. She laid where she was, breathing heavily and grasping Harry's hand firmly in both of hers.
Harry saw Mrs. Weasley appear in the hallway, out of breath and wide-eyed. "Ginny?" she called. Then, spotting them both on the bed, she came to a stop, her eyes narrowing slightly.
Stroking Ginny's hair soothingly, Harry glanced up at her mother and spoke in a soft voice. "She fell asleep."
The matronly woman swallowed visibly. "Can I get you anything, Ginny?"
"No thanks, Mum," Ginny said slowly, straightening and pushing her hair away from her face. "I'll just have to be sure to stay awake."
"Well… alright, I suppose. Harry, you need to be going back now." With a last furtive look over her shoulder, Mrs. Weasley descended the stairs out of sight.
Harry and Ginny stood and stepped into a hug. Thanks, Harry.
Anytime, Ginevra.Smiling warmly, Harry Shifted back to Privet Drive.
For the rest of the afternoon, Ginny busied herself by straightening her room and more carefully organising the two sets of clothes in her bureau. Several of Harry's shirts were stained with food from Dudley's ownership, and some of them reminded Harry of stories that helped to pass the time. Ron passed her doorway on his way upstairs, but after looking in at her with a small wave, he continued without speaking.
Harry's last task for the day was clearing any dust or cobwebs from around the light fixtures using a stool and a flannel. It was awkward, seemingly pointless work, but Petunia insisted that the glass be perfectly clean and unblemished.
As he worked, Ginny's mother called her downstairs to set the table for dinner. She put out the plates, utensils, and glasses first, and then she began placing condiments around the table. Harry was attempting to scrub at a particularly stubborn patch of dust when his hand slipped, causing him to overbalance and fall backwards. He landed on his feet easily, but the moment of disorientation caused Ginny to stumble and catch herself heavily on the surface of the kitchen table.
Something cool and wet pressed against her arm, and Ginny looked down to find that she had planted her elbow firmly in the butter dish. "Ruddy hell!"
"Language, Ginevra!" Mrs. Weasley snapped as she looked up from her work.
"Sorry, Mum," Ginny replied. "Harry lost his balance, so I did, too. I've ruined the butter."
Mrs. Weasley sighed and shook her head. "No matter, dear." With a few flicks of her wand, she located a new block of butter and exchanged it for the unrecognisable lump that Ginny had created. Then, with another wave, she cleaned the butter off of Ginny's elbow.
Ginny and Harry finished their separate tasks carefully. Shortly after she finished, a soft pop from the garden announced her father's arrival. "Hello, Weasleys!"
"Hi, Dad," Ginny said hesitantly as he appeared in the doorway. She had the utmost faith that her father could fix things, but she truly did not know how he might react to what her mother would undoubtedly tell him.
"Dinner will be ready in just a moment, Arthur," Mrs. Weasley said as she stepped across the kitchen to hug her husband and peck his cheek.
"Excellent," he said, apparently oblivious to Ginny's concern. "I'll just run up and change, then."
Frustrated, Ginny sank onto the bench near the door to the parlour and waited. She wanted this entire mess cleared up immediately, but her mother obviously had other plans. After a few more minutes, Harry finally finished his dusting, and then he went up to the smallest bedroom to wait, also.
"Dinner!" Mrs. Weasley shouted as she brought several steaming platters over to the table.
Ron burst into the kitchen a few moments later, followed shortly by the twins, and Percy arrived at a more sedate pace as the younger boys found their seats. Ginny took her place at the table, and when Harry's watch read six o'clock, he appeared in the chair next to her. Mrs. Weasley sat at the foot, and they all waited as Mr. Weasley's slow, heavy tread descended the stairs. When he had taken his seat, now dressed in much more casual robes, they began their meal.
No one who had been at home that day seemed willing to begin a conversation, and Mr. Weasley reacted to the silence immediately. "Something going on?" His eyes flicked first to Fred and George, but they shrugged and glanced surreptitiously at Ginny as she watched. Harry, for his part, focused on his plate. He did not want any of the Weasleys to see the irritation that was already rebuilding, even though he suspected that they were already aware of the warmth of the room.
"I thought we might have a talk after dinner, Arthur," Mrs. Weasley said in a carefully casual voice. "With Ginny and Harry."
Ginny met her father's eyes when he looked over at her, and she knew that a hint of her outrage and nervousness showed on her face. She knew she and Harry were right, but she had no way to prove it to anyone.
Mr. Weasley turned to look at his wife, and then he nodded. "Alright, that's what we'll do," he said slowly. He shifted his attention to the twins, and his voice brightened. "Well, boys, are you looking forward to our extra trip to Diagon Alley?"
"Oh, yeah, definitely," Fred said. "We're out of Dungbombs after we put one in each of Percy's uniform pockets. We'd have done Ron, but we're not sure anyone would have noticed."
I love those idiots, Ginny said. Thank goodness they're not as stupid as they act.
The other brothers' concern and Mrs. Weasley's surprise were enough to change the mood of the table for the rest of the meal. The twins were clearly in charge of the mood-changing effort, and they proposed a series of ideas that could only get them in trouble with the Weasley parents, the Board of Governors of Hogwarts, and eventually the Ministry of Magic.
I'm pretty sure they couldn't really add an extra wing to Hogwarts and fill it full of Diricawls, Ginny commented, but you never know.
I still can't believe those things aren't extinct.
They look rather like they should be, don't they?
Percy seemed to ignore the efforts of his brothers, either glaring at whatever nonsense was being spouted or furtively and disapprovingly watching Harry again. The meal finally ended several minutes after everyone had finished eating, when Mrs. Weasley stood up and began gathering plates to take them to the kitchen. Fred's voice trailed off, and with a sympathetic look at Ginny and Harry, the twins left the kitchen. Percy followed them, and Ron left after squeezing Ginny's shoulder gently and sharing a helpless look with Harry.
"Let's go on into the parlour," Mr. Weasley suggested. Harry and Ginny dutifully got up and filed into the next room, and Mrs. Weasley abandoned her dishes to follow them. Inside, the two children sat on the sofa together, and Ginny held Harry's hand where her parents could see the contact clearly.
I don't care what they think. We have a right to be comfortable.
Both of the older Weasleys noticed their hands. Mr. Weasley smiled slightly, but Ginny's mother began to scowl again. "Arthur," she said, "the alarm on Ginny's pyjamas went off this morning. The one that means she didn't put them on for twenty-four hours."
"I see," he replied carefully. Then he turned to Ginny. "Is that true?"
"Well… it did flash bright colours and make an awful wailing noise," she said, "but I don't know what that's supposed to mean. Whatever it is, I wore them last night, and I've worn them every night since I got them."
"That's quite interesting," her father said. "Could you go and get your pyjamas for us, please?"
Ginny nodded, and Harry Shifted up to her room. The blue pyjamas were still lying innocently on her bed, so he scooped them up and Shifted back to the parlour.
"Thank you, Harry," Mr. Weasley said as he accepted the garments. Then he spent a few minutes waving his wand over the fabric and buttons, occasionally muttering an incantation or twisting his wrist for a different wand motion. At last, he sighed. "The charms are still working the way they're supposed to. In theory, the only way for that alarm to go off is if Ginny doesn't wear the pyjamas for a full day."
"I wore them, Daddy," Ginny said, silently pleading with her father to believe her. "I swear I did."
"Did anyone see you wearing them?"
She shook her head. "Just Harry."
"She wore them," Harry insisted. "She wears them every night, even when they're too warm or they need washing. She does it because she promised you she would."
Mr. Weasley's warm blue eyes met Ginny's, and she could see the gentle, implacable authority that embodied her father. "You're sure, Firefly? You're absolutely positive that you didn't forget and wear something else?"
"I'm sure, Daddy. I don't even have anything else that fits anymore."
"Alright, sweetheart, I believe you."
"Arthur –" Mrs. Weasley began heatedly.
He turned to her and held up a calming hand. "Have you ever known Ginny to lie to us about something important?"
Shame flooded Harry and Ginny, and they hoped it did not show in their faces. They had never outright lied, but they knew that hiding something or leaving something out of a story was exactly the same as not telling the truth.
After a long moment, Ginny's mother slumped a bit. "No."
"I haven't either. That means that the alarm went off and that Ginny wore her pyjamas. It sounds impossible, but there must be something we haven't thought of yet."
"Alright, Arthur, but –" Mrs. Weasley stopped herself and closed her mouth with a frustrated and fearful frown.
Mr. Weasley drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair for a moment. "Ginny, Harry, would you mind waiting in the kitchen for a minute or two?"
They left the room, closing the door behind them, and sat in their chairs at the kitchen table. For the first minute or so, they could only hear enough to know that her parents were still talking, but as Mrs. Weasley's voice rose, her words became audible.
"– yet, but she will! It's only a matter of time, and it's not going to be long!"
Whatever either of Ginny's parents might have said next was cut off abruptly, and Harry and Ginny knew that Mr. Weasley must have charmed the room to block any sound.
If he believes us, then nothing changes, right? Harry asked hopefully. We can go back to normal?
I don't know, she replied pensively. Mum seems to believe us now, too, but that doesn't mean she'll just give up.
They're not going to take away your door again, are they?
I hope not. Ginny paused to consider it for a moment. I don't think so, really. I bet they don't want to think about Christmas any more than we do.
After a few more minutes, the door to the parlour opened, and Mr. Weasley waved them back into the room. When they had reclaimed their place on the sofa, he leaned forward and spoke softly to Ginny. "We're not sure what's happening, but if you say you wore your pyjamas, then we believe you. All we ask is that you let one of us see you in them before bed from now on, alright?"
Ginny's spirits fell, and Harry slipped a supportive arm around her as her shoulders slumped and tears welled up in her eyes. "Then you don't really believe us, do you?" she whispered.
Harry watched as Mr. Weasley launched himself from his chair and knelt on the floor in front of Ginny. He took both of her small hands in his large ones, enveloping her in the strong warmth that had always comforted her. "That's not it at all, sweetheart," he said in a soft, urgent voice. "It's just that if the alarm goes off again and we've seen you in your pyjamas, then there won't be any questions about what happened. It might even give us some clues about what's going on with the charms."
Relieved, Ginny slid off the edge of the sofa and into her father's embrace. Holding her tightly to his chest with one arm, he reached out and squeezed Harry's hand with the other.
It's not hard to just let them see me, is it? Ginny asked. They knew that she was mostly attempting to convince herself to accept the slight imposition.
Not if you can tolerate it.
"Okay, Daddy," she whispered into his robes.
Mr. Weasley released Harry's hand and pulled a bit away from Ginny. "Alright now, Firefly?"
Ginny scrubbed her moist eyes and nodded. "We're okay. We just… we felt like criminals all day, Daddy," she said quietly.
Mrs. Weasley overheard her. "I'm sorry about that, Ginny. I just…" She sighed. "I'm sorry."
Harry and Ginny could not say that her actions were acceptable to them, but Ginny nodded again in forgiveness.
"Now, then," Mr. Weasley said. "What would you two like to do this evening?"
They thought for a moment. It was too late to go to the pond, but they had not been on their broom in a while. "Can we go out and fly, Daddy? Just until it gets dark."
"Alright," he agreed. "I'll come out with you and set up some lights if we need them. It'll be just like old times."
Ginny smiled tremulously.
I'll get the broom, Harry said. He Shifted up to Ginny's room and picked up the Nimbus, but he hesitated before returning to the parlour. In his absence, Ginny walked slowly over to stand in front of her mother's chair. She was unsure what to say, so she simply held out her arms as she had when she was very young.
Immediately, Mrs. Weasley scooped her up into a huge hug. "I do love you, Ginny," she whispered.
"I love you, too, Mum."
Ginny rested for a moment in her mother's arms, and Harry leaned against the wall of her room. That's the point, isn't it? he asked, finally finding the words he wanted. No matter what she does, you know that she loves you, so you just keep on loving her.
Ginny nodded minutely. She's Mum.
Mrs. Weasley released Ginny and let her climb back down to the floor, and then Harry Shifted to the parlour with the broom in his hands. The two of them followed Mr. Weasley out into the paddock. It was still well-lit, but the sun was getting close to the horizon.
You first?Harry offered.
Let's try it together.
Harry mounted the broom, and Ginny sat behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist. She turned her head and pressed her cheek against the back of his neck, giving them the contact they needed, and they both used their legs to push off into the sky.
They had only flown this way once, when McGonagall took them home at Christmas, because Ginny usually preferred the speed and freedom of flying by herself after Quidditch practices. Given the day they had just experienced, however, they sought nothing more than contact and solace.
As they rose into the air, they quickly discovered that, on the same broomstick at the same time, they did not have to worry about the complications of separate motion. At first, they experienced a moment of dizziness, but when Ginny moved to rest her forehead against Harry's neck instead of her cheek, they were able to fly normally. Harry's hands steered, and they used both of their legs to control the broom. They leaned from side to side in perfect unison, and the movement was as easy as flying one at a time.
They accelerated, somewhat more slowly than they might have separately, and Ginny felt her loose hair billowing in their wake. Without conscious decision, they performed loops, rolls, and long, shallow dives. Ginny's eyes were closed so that they did not have to worry about confusing their vision, but Harry saw the sun beginning to set. Appreciating the beauty of the scene and ignoring its indication of time, they continued flying in long laps around the paddock, dipping above and below the tree-line as the mood struck them.
When the light had almost completely faded, they noticed that Ron was standing on the ground next to Mr. Weasley. The tall boy held his broom loosely, but he made no move to join them in the air. Curious, Ginny and Harry swept down towards the house and landed a few feet from the two men.
Mr. Weasley smiled broadly. "My little Firefly has got a bit bigger. Grown more arms and legs, too."
Ron blinked and looked up at his father. "Oh, I get it now. Firefly."
"Yep. Striking, isn't it?"
Ginny smiled but did not comment on the byplay. She looked down at the Quaffle in the grass at her brother's feet. "Want to play, Ron?"
"Thought I might, but it's pretty dark now."
"Maybe tomorrow," Mr. Weasley said. "I don't think you could keep track of the Quaffle even with some lights in the trees."
Ron put his broom and the Quaffle back in the shed, and Harry carried the Nimbus back into the house. Inside, Ron immediately began rummaging in the icebox, and Harry and Ginny followed her father towards the parlour. When they reached the doorway, however, they saw Mrs. Weasley knitting in her chair. The woman's expression, even viewed from the side, showed consternation, and the click of her needles already sounded more torturous than soothing.
Let's just go upstairs, Ginny suggested.
Yeah. It won't do any good for us to hang around down here.
They went to Ginny's room, and she sat at her desk while Harry perched on the bed. She picked up her brush to work the tangles out of her hair, but on a sudden impulse, Ginny turned and held the brush out to Harry with hope in her eyes and mind.
He took her brush uncertainly. I don't want to mess up your hair.
It's just a brush, Harry. You can't hurt anything.
With that reassurance, Harry stepped up behind the chair, and Ginny turned to face away from him. Start at the ends, Ginny said, and work your way up.
Slowly and carefully, Harry began running the brush through the last few inches of Ginny's hair, removing the tangles she had gained while flying. After a few minutes, he felt more confident, and he fell into an easy rhythm as he worked his way further up towards her scalp.
Ginny sat silently with her eyes closed. When she had been younger and her hair had seemed to be almost longer than she was, her mother, or occasionally her eldest brother, would brush her hair for her. She had adored those quiet moments and the gentle tugging on her scalp. Now, even though she knew exactly what Harry was going to do as he did it, she found that she still enjoyed the sensation. As he worked, Harry smoothed her hair with his free hand, and the softness under his fingers made the entire process even more pleasurable for them both.
They brushed Ginny's hair long past the point of usefulness, merely for the peace and contentment of the process. When Ginny noticed that it was nearing ten o'clock, Harry put down the brush. Remembering a day not even three weeks before, regardless of how long that time seemed now, Harry leaned down and kissed the top of her head.
Ginny turned, her smooth locks falling forward over one shoulder, and smiled warmly at him. Thanks.
You're welcome. Maybe I could do it again sometime?
Her smile shifted to a familiar grin. Don't worry, you will. Want to try braiding it?
Harry snorted. We know I can't do that.
All the more reason for you to learn. It doesn't matter how it looks if I'm just sleeping on it.
Harry shrugged and then gathered her hair into his hands according to her instructions. After fifteen minutes of concentration, peppered by two complete re-starts, Harry had produced a reasonable plait. It was sufficiently tight, but it was uneven, and in several places small locks of hair looped out at odd angles. Ginny examined the plait through Harry's eyes, giggled for a moment, and then pronounced it adequate for sleeping.
You'll get better, she reassured him. Bill learned how when I was little.
They took turns in the bathroom to change into their pyjamas, and Ginny tried her best not to blame the innocent blue fabric for everything that had happened to them that day. When she was ready, she walked downstairs and into the parlour where her parents spent their quiet evenings.
"Here I am," she said simply, raising her arms a bit to draw attention to her pyjamas.
"Thank you, Firefly," Mr. Weasley said, holding out his arms. "You're a good girl."
Ginny hugged her father and then moved to embrace her mother. "Goodnight, Ginny, dear."
"And goodnight to Harry, too," her father added.
"Goodnight," Ginny echoed.
Harry had already climbed into bed and Transfigured Bun-bun, so Ginny only had to lie down next to him. Harry pulled the sheet over them both. He had never needed as many blankets as Ginny had, and in her full-length pyjamas she was warm enough at night and occasionally warmer than even she preferred.
She settled against him and sighed. I hope there are no more days like today.
A quiet knock sounded on the closed bedroom door, and Ginny sighed. "Who is it?"
"Twins," was the barely-audible response.
Ginny climbed out of bed and opened the door. With a wave, she gestured the two boys inside, and Fred pushed the door closed behind him. Harry sat up, and Ginny perched on the edge of the mattress next to him.
The twins leaned casually against the door. "So what'd you do to get Mum all worked up?" Fred asked.
"Nothing," Ginny snapped. "We didn't do anything."
Both brothers blinked in surprise, and their expressions faded from mild amusement to concern. "Err… what's going on, then? What was that awful noise?"
Harry and Ginny sighed. They knew they probably would not be able to keep the nature of the alarm secret.
It's funny, Harry mused. If the noise had come from their room, none of the rest of us would wonder about it at all.
"You know those charms Mum and Dad put on my pyjamas?" The twins nodded cautiously. "Well, apparently that was the alarm. It's supposed to go off if I didn't wear them the previous night, but I did. So we don't know what's going on."
"Oh," Fred said. "So it was just… a mistake, or something?"
Harry shrugged. "Something. We didn't break any of the rules."
"Well, alright," George said. "We just wanted to make sure you two weren't going to spend the rest of the summer cutting grass. That looked pretty tedious."
"We'd be surprised, really. You're normally pretty good at not getting caught," Fred added, grinning.
"I guess you're lousy at getting caught when you haven't done anything. You should work on that."
Ginny smiled and shook her head ruefully. "Yeah, we'll keep that in mind. Goodnight."
"'Night, Gin. 'Night, Harry," Fred said. The two brothers turned and left the room as quietly as they had entered it.
The next day was a Thursday, and it passed with a hesitant sort of normality. Mrs. Weasley was a bit more watchful than usual, but the twins did not react at all. Unfortunately, Harry and Ginny finally realised that Percy seemed to know the nature of the alarm, and on the few occasions when Harry and Ginny saw him alone, he looked at Harry with an expression of mixed confusion and disapproval. When they went out to the paddock that morning to play Quidditch with Ron, as they had planned, they ended up explaining the situation to him when he asked about the noise. Ron did not respond verbally, but he nodded slowly a few times and then returned to the game.
Ginny passed the afternoon alone at the pond, swimming lazily or just floating while Harry worked. He spent most of his time at Privet Drive scrubbing the cabinets in the kitchen. As best as he could determine, Dudley had opened a can of cola that had been thoroughly shaken, and the widespread mess had been left for Harry to clean.
I really wish I could use magic, he said as he tried to reach a spray of sticky liquid that had somehow reached the underside of the kitchen cupboards.
It's awfully sticky, Ginny said. She had never had cola, but she remembered a special day at school when Harry had been given a tiny cup of the bubbling liquid. Tasty, though.
The following morning, Harry and Ginny returned to the pond to swim and play together. Shortly before lunch, Hedwig landed on one of the rocks with a letter tied to her leg. They swam over to her, and as they climbed out of the pond, Hedwig hopped a few feet backwards to avoid the water they splashed onto the stone.
"Sorry, Hedwig," Harry said. He shook his hands dry as well as he could and then untied the letter from Hedwig's leg. "We don't have anything to eat with us, but you can probably find something at The Burrow if you're hungry."
The Snowy Owl clicked her beak once and then flew away in the direction of the house.
Hermione's letter was much shorter than her first one had been. She confirmed that her family would be in Diagon Alley on August first, and she asked a few specific questions about Harry's experiences learning to swim. In particular, she seemed keen to know about all of the things that caused Harry and Ginny to become disoriented.
Much to their amusement, Hermione only briefly responded to their story about meeting Luna. Their gifted friend seemed unable to form a coherent theory about the blonde girl, so she settled for cautioning them to be careful what they revealed to people who did not know their secret. As an aside, she reminded them that her parents did not know, either, which meant that they would have to restrain themselves even in a private room at the Leaky Cauldron.
Harry and Ginny spent the morning in the pool on Saturday, but rain fell through most of the afternoon. After Harry left for Surrey, Ginny went to Ron's room, and the two siblings spent their time poring over Ron's old Quidditch catalogues. Harry had already finished all of his weekly tasks, so after an hour or so he was able to actively join in the perusal. During that hour, though, Ginny was regularly distracted. She was grateful that Ron did not seem offended, even though she was sure that he had noticed.
Dinner was almost over that evening when a grey owl flew into the room and landed directly on Percy's shoulder. The tall boy jumped slightly and swept his eyes around the kitchen before taking the letter from the owl's leg. With his free hand, he reached up to scratch the owl's chest, and then he held up a morsel of meat. "Thank you, Archimedes," he whispered. The owl daintily accepted the food, and then it flew out of the room again.
Ignoring the rest of his meal, Percy looked down the table at Mr. Weasley. "May I be excused, please?"
His father smiled knowingly. "Of course."
Without waiting for further commentary, Percy rose from the table and began climbing the stairs two at a time. As soon as his feet disappeared from the stairs, the twins began laughing loudly and whistling.
"I see how much we rate," Fred chortled. "I'm not sure he even knew we were here after that owl arrived."
"Seemed awfully chummy with the bird, didn't he?" George continued. "Or with the bird's bird, to be exact."
"Now, boys," Mrs. Weasley said, smiling, "there's nothing wrong with Percy having a friend."
George rolled his eyes. "Yeah, a friend. A friend who he sends owls to every day, and who just happens to be a girl."
"You don't know it was from a girl, do you?" Mr. Weasley asked calmly.
"Oh, I suppose not," Fred said, "but there're simple questions, and then there're stupid questions. If that wasn't Penelope Clearwater's owl, I'll eat my broomstick."
"It was," Ron interjected. "I caught Percy giving it a letter for her the other day."
"Barking," George said. "He's utterly barking. Who could be that mad over a girl?" Fred and Ron's expression clearly showed their agreement.
Shows what they know, Harry said, schooling his expression to avoid rolling his eyes.
"I'll remember you said that," Mr. Weasley said, now grinning widely.
Fred shook his head. "Oh, don't get me wrong. I like girls as much as the next bloke. I just can't see being that obsessed with one."
His father laughed outright. "Are you taking this down, Molly?"
"I think I'll remember it quite well," Mrs. Weasley replied, also smiling.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I feel bad for Percy, Harry said. There's nothing wrong with liking a girl that much, I'd say.
Ginny squeezed his hand tightly and smiled. Why, thank you. She glanced up the stairs for a moment. Do you mind? I'm not sure how well he'd respond to both of us.
Go ahead. I'll go to your room so I don't have to listen to your brothers making morons of themselves.
They excused themselves from the table and climbed the stairs. Harry went into their room and waited on the chair, while Ginny stopped on the first floor and knocked softly on Percy's door. After a moment, it opened just enough for Percy to peer through the crack. "Hi, Percy. D'you mind if I come in?"
Her brother looked puzzled and cautious, but he backed away and allowed Ginny to step into the room. "What may I do for you?"
Ginny closed the door behind her and stood silently for a moment, unsure how to say what she wanted to say. Deciding on the simplest approach, she looked up to meet her brother's blue eyes. "I just wanted to say that I think it's great that you and Penelope get along so well. There's nothing wrong with it, and I'm happy for you. The twins and Ron are just… well… they're a bit stupid about some things."
Percy blinked a few times, his eyebrows rising fractionally in surprise. "Err… thank you, Ginny."
"You're welcome." She paused, looking for some way to fill the awkward silence. "How's she doing?"
The lanky boy's face brightened from its perplexed half-scowl. "Very well, thank you. She's been visiting Muggle museums in London, and they sound fascinating."
"That's great, Percy. She sounds really nice."
"Penny is…" he trailed off and stared sightlessly at the wall. "I think she's wonderful."
Ginny leaned back against the door and smiled up at her brother. "Have you managed to spend much time together?" she asked, hoping to get Percy to relax a bit further.
"A bit," he admitted. "We've been to Hogsmeade with a few of her friends, and we often met in the library to revise last year."
"Is she your girlfriend, then?"
"Umm… no, not specifically. I think… that is, I hope… well. I might ask her to visit Hogsmeade with me this year. Without her friends."
"You should do it," Ginny said. "I'm sure she'll agree."
"I do hope so."
Struck by a sudden inspiration, Ginny pushed away from the door in excitement. "The daisies are blooming out by the paddock. You should send her some. She'd love that, and it would show her that you're thinking of her that way."
"That's… I could do that, I suppose," he said, his cheeks reddening slightly.
"Oh, and you can invite her to Diagon Alley, too, if you want to. We'll be there for Harry's birthday, but there's no reason you can't meet with her after lunch or something." Ginny grinned knowingly. "Away from the twins, of course."
The corner of Percy's mouth twitched upwards in response. "Of course." His expression faded into worry again. "The flowers… might she think they're just a… well, a friendly gesture?" He seemed almost desperate for some sort of advice or reassurance.
Ginny shook her head. "No, Percy. Boys don't often give flowers to girls out of friendship."
"Well, perhaps I will, then."
At that moment, a particularly loud burst of the twins' laughter reached them from the kitchen, and Percy scowled thoughtfully.
If he carried a bunch of flowers past that lot… Harry began.
"Percy, I was thinking… I'd rather like to have some daisies to put in my room. I was going to pick them anyway, so it wouldn't be any trouble to bring back a few extra for you to send to Penelope."
Her brother glanced at her sharply, and Ginny was reminded again that Percy was the smartest of the Weasleys in some ways. "You'd do that for me?"
"Sure. You're my brother, aren't you?"
"Yes. Yes I am." Percy cleared his throat awkwardly, and his face locked into an expression of polite concern. "Umm… how is Harry?"
Ginny giggled softly. "He's fine, Percy, same as he was ten minutes ago. Thanks for asking, though."
"Ah, yes, of course. That's good. I hope… you do know that Penelope is several years older than you, don't you?"
Rolling her eyes and sighing, Ginny glared lightly at her brother. "Yes, Percy. That's what the years at Hogwarts mean, you know, for the most part."
"Right. Well… there are things that are… normal for her that, for you, would be –"
"Percy!" Ginny said sharply, a hint of irritation in her voice. When her brother stopped talking, she exhaled softly and continued in a gentle, almost pleading voice. "Please don't ruin it. Not right now."
The tall boy looked down at her solemnly for a moment, and then he nodded. "As you like."
Ginny gave him the tiniest of smiles. "I'll be back in a few minutes with the daisies, alright?"
"Alright. Thank you, Ginny."
Harry met her in the hallway, and they went back downstairs. He was getting ready to go at you like your mum really wants to.
I know, Harry. He means well, and I think he's just concerned. He is my brother, after all.
I suppose. I wish they'd stop trying to make us sound… that way.
So do I, Harry. The sadness in her mind was nothing he could solve, but it left him feeling slightly annoyed with her brother.
The rest of the family had moved into the sitting room, and Ginny peeked into the room long enough to inform her parents of their trip out to the paddock.
"Be back before dark," her father said.
"We will, Daddy. It won't take long."
They walked out to the paddock and went to the far side, where the daisies were growing near the tree-line. Within a few minutes, each of them had a large handful of the cheerful white and yellow flowers. That'll be enough for both, Ginny said.
Harry turned back towards her, and his eye fell on a daisy that was in perfect condition and slightly larger than the others. Immediately, he used his free hand to snap the stem a few inches from the petals. Then he carried it over to Ginny, who smiled warmly at him as he approached. With careful fingers, he reached out and tucked the blossom securely behind her ear, feeling the delicate petals brushing against her temple.
Thank you, Harry, she said, leaning over to kiss his cheek.
You're welcome, Ginevra.
They walked back to the house hand-in-hand. As they climbed the stairs, Ginny called out, "We're back!" and heard her father acknowledge their return. She stopped at the first landing, while Harry went up to Ginny's room and found her vase on the shelf of her closet. As Harry filled it with water from the bathroom sink and went back into their room, Ginny knocked on Percy's door again.
This time, the door opened fully, and Ginny stepped inside. "Here you are, Percy," she said. He took the bundle of flowers from her, and Ginny noticed that he had already located a box to put them in.
"Thank you again, Ginny," Percy said with only a hint of formality. "That was very kind of you."
Ginny realised that she had heard more genuine feeling in her brother's voice in that one evening than she had in the past year. "You're welcome, Percy. I can't wait to meet her."
As her brother laid the flowers carefully inside the box, Ginny backed out of the room and closed the door. Harry had put their daisies into the vase, but he had been too distracted to pay much attention to their placement. When she arrived, Ginny smiled at him and began arranging them to her liking.
He's not so bad, really, she said. He doesn't like anything that the rest of us like, for the most part. Well, he enjoys Quidditch, but he prefers watching. Aside from that… there isn't usually anything aside from that. Tonight, though…
It feels like we have something in common, Harry finished.
Yeah. Weird, isn't it?
He still doesn't approve of us, either way.
Maybe not. I think he was genuinely concerned, though, and I can't be angry with him for caring. At least he was polite about it. Percy's always polite, at least on the outside.
Do you suppose Penelope is much like him?
She shrugged. We'll find out, sooner or later.
After Ginny dutifully displayed her pyjamas to her parents, and after Harry braided her hair again, they went to bed feeling hopeful that the fluke from earlier in the week would not be repeated. That night at almost two o'clock, however, they were awakened by a deafening wail.